Previewing this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sahara Force India F1 Team Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, has emphasised the challenges the 5.554km Yas Marina circuits poses on the engineering staff.
“[The circuit] is very hard on the brakes and the practice sessions take place early in the day, with higher track temperatures than those we experience during qualifying and race at twilight, meaning it’s important to assess the car requirements accurately.”
As with the Singapore Grand Prix, FP2 will be the only practice session that will give a representative reflection of the track conditions during qualifying and the race as it is the only practice held under the floodlights. However, the temperature disparity between the day and the night is much higher in Abu Dhabi than in Singapore, which greatly reduces the opportunity to log meaningful mileage on the Friday and Saturday morning sessions.
This will likely see a lot of 2018-minded experimentation during FP1 and FP3 from the teams, not least from Force India, as McCullough explains: “As in Brazil, having secured fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, we will use Friday not only to prepare for the race, but also to help the development of next year’s car.”
With the power units no longer wheezing under the strain of the high-altitude experienced in Mexico and Brazil, McCullough describes the central challenge of the layout as being the relentless barrage of slow corners: “This anti-clockwise track produces one of the slowest lap times of the year, courtesy of the high number of corners – the majority of them being low-speed. The three sectors making up the lap are quite distinct: short sector one tests the medium to high-speed performance of the car, while sector two is dominated by long straights and low-speed corners. At the end of the lap, sector three is an intense series of low-speed corners.”